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Dan Smith

Matusalem Discontinued?

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Greetings again to all,

I keep hearing a rumor that Matusalem is, or will be, discontinued.  In that same rumor, people mention Cuba.  Well I will tell you what I know, and it comes from a very reliable source…  Jim Tirel of Matusalem Miami.

First I will re-re-post the full story of my telephone conversation with Jim.  I ask for a little patience from those of you how have all ready read this before.


I went to Cuba this summer and brought back a bottle of Matusalem anejo Superior.  After I drank the bottle and I realized that it was in a class of it's own (with a VERY close second Santiago De Cuba).

Since then I went insane trying to find this rum.  I could not.  I contacted Tim Forsythe at Caribbean Week Newspaper and we lead me to the Matusalem Company based in Miami.

After responding to an e-mail I sent to the Matusalem Company concerning the Cuba rum, Jim Tirel (Sales Manager for Matusalem Co.) called me.  We had a long conversation about Matusalem and the Cuban variant of their rum.

It all boils down to Castro and the revolution.  Matusalem was producing their rum in Cuba, business as usual.  Then came the revolution.  They fled Cuba.  The next part is a little sketchy, Jim Tirel did not tell me all of it.  I don't know about the Bahamas part.  Jim told me that they set up in Miami and Castro took aver their plant in Cuba and he then continued to produce rum under the Matusalem banner.  After a ~17 year long legal battle, in 1998, maybe 1999, they finally won back the world rights to their name and product.

They now are distilling their product in St-Croix, US Virgin Islands, and bottling it in Miami USA.  And Castro still produces his version of Matusalem in Cuba.  BUT... if he exports any of it, Matusalem Miami has the right to sieze the shipment (just as Bacardi has done in the past, so says Jim T.).

That's all that I know,


Dan Smith, Montreal, Canada

Just today I spend an hour searching all leads on Internet sites, e-stores, search engines…  ALL Matusalem leads that show up with a picture of the product, or bottles for sale are NOT from Cuba.  They are the Matusalem out of Miami.  Yet, most of the time the country of origin stated is Cuba.  This is false.  The Grand Reserva that is all over net e-stores all state Cuba as the Country of origin.  It is the proud creation of the Miami group (which are the true and original founders of the company) and is based on the original recipe that dates back to 1872.  Castro is simply distilling his version of Matusalem.  Great as it is, it is not the original formula.

Matusalem Miami is discontinuing all of their rums; Red Flame, Light Dry, Golden Dry and to my great regret also the Classic Black.  The only Rum of their present line that they will continue to make is the Grand Reserva.  They will be launching new products soon.  Starting first with the South American market.

I strongly think that people are getting this true fact mixed up with the Matusalem out of Cuba.  It’s easy to mix the two of them up, because they both have the same label and trade mark.

I hope that this helps everyone out a little and sheds some light on the situation.  Anyway, a friend of my wife's just got back from Cuba Sunday and brought me a bottle of Matusalem Carta Blanca (she grabbed the wrong bottle, she was suppose to bring back the Anejo Superior).  So it has been spotted in Cuba as of last week.  Try and find any of the Miami bottles in the US, you’ll only find the Grand Reserva.

Cheers, Dan

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As someone who has access to both the Cuban and American Matusalem, I can only tell you to READ THE LABEL.

The American Matusalem says Cuban tradition, not distilled or bottled in Cuba.

The Cuba label however states that this is a product of Cuba.

Sure Matusalem of Miami can seize shipments from Cuba under international law. But try seizing a shipment in a third country and then taking Cuba to court. Good Luck.

I'm happy to say that although they are different rums I drink both regulary and hope I can continue for a long time.

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Hi Ed,

I know what you mean about prosecuting the Cubans, impossible.  I work for a German Company that has been in business for over 50 years.  Always on top of the market producing the best products, raising the bar and pioneering engineering in our industry.  Anyway, the Chinese take our product and manufacture reverse molds to copy it identically... and legally there's NOTHING we can do to stop them.  They even put our name on the product and packaging sometimes...

I really like the Classic Black and I am very disappointed that they are no longer producing it.  Glad to see that the Grand Reseva is still around, it’s so smooth and no artificial tastes.  I can’t wait to see what the new rums will be like.

BTW Ed, did Lauchie from Glenora Distilleries ever send you a bottle of Smuggler's Cove Dark yet?  I'm really interested in what you have to saw about it... remember, it's a General Market rum.  I find it extremely close to the Classic Black


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Thank you for the great info Dan. I am sure there is plenty of complexity to the story (or stories for that matter), and even more inconsistancies to all of the rumors floating around out there. I am glad that you were able to clear this up.

Intersting though -- I have a few friends who are Cuban (live there, work there, etc.). Withough getting into too many details and divulging names and information, one of my friends is (let's just say) "affiliated" with the one of the government entities that involves Cuban cigars. In a recent (brief) conversation, he had told me that they did in fact stop producing the Cuban Matusalem. We didn't have time to get into the details, but shortly thereafter, I heard from others who were in Cuba, that the supply had totally dried up. I really have nopt been able to get back in touch with him as he has been out of pocket.

Regardless, I would like to clairfy one thing -- is there a formal policy or position on whether or not the Cuban Matusalem is a "for export" product. I have seen it, obviously outside Cuba, as I have never been to Cuba, and I have gotten it before. However, just because it has been outside Cuba, maybe it is a non-export product. On a side note, I am told tha way back, originally, Havana Club 15 was a non-export product. Later on, I am not sure when, an exported version, with a different top, was produced and exported.

So, has anybody currently seen the Cuban Matusalem in Cuba, or outside Cuba? Thanks.


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sounds like they are keeping the best of the bunch......Grand Reserva. But it is a shame what a mess this embargo cramp as done. But lets not get to talking about that.........

Yes if you have the bottle in hand it is easy to tell which is which but when buying on-line it can be confusing and misleading. I'm sure it is done on purpose. oh well buyer-be-ware.


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